Collaboration, Planning Instruction, Student Teaching

Plymouth State University Collaboration, Part Two: Creating Effective Lessons

Looking to hire a new early childhood educator?  Look no further than the student teachers that will be graduating in 2017 from Plymouth State University’s Early Childhood Studies department!


I recently had the privilege of teaching these impressive students for a second time this semester.  Our focus was investigating how to create and plan an effective instructional unit.  We also delved into difficult questions like “Why focus on engaging your students when planning?” and “What is the biggest challenge to engaging students?”


Well, why focus on engaging your students when planning?  Looking at definitions for the word engage you will find phrases similar to “get and keep someone’s attention” or “to hold the attention of” and “induce to participate.”  Are we as educators looking to get and keep out students’ attention?  Do we desire to hold our students’ attention and induce them to participate?  Absolutely!  Why?  Engaged students are invested learners.

Here is an analogy I presented to PSU’s students about the importance of focusing on engaging your students when planning:


Olive Garden wants to create a new entrée.  They get their top chefs and administrators together to discuss various aspects of the entrée.  They consider very carefully the ingredients, the complementary appetizers and sides, the compatible beverages, the perfectly-sized portions, and also the appearance of the entrée.  But they forget one thing – how the entrée will taste! 

Creating a lesson without focusing on how to engage our students is like making an entrée without considering how it will taste to the customers.  Yeah, it’s that important!


And what is the BIGGEST challenge to engaging students?  Is it making the subject matter appealing?  Is it exhibiting an attractive teaching style?  Is it planning instruction that produces quality lessons?  Is it classroom management that creates an effective learning atmosphere?


When considering this question, Dr. Elisabeth Johnston’s students wisely came to the conclusion that the answer to this question is most likely dependent on the teacher’s strengths and weaknesses.  They also pointed out that it is important for teachers to be aware of their own weaknesses so that they could work hard on improving in these areas.  I was in total agreement with their insight, and impressed with their self-awareness in such an early stage of their educational career.

When all is said and done, I did advise PSU’s Early Childhood student teachers that I believe that creating effective teaching experiences can boil down to the following:

  1. Instructional planning that focuses on engaging students by preparing, reflecting and refining our lessons
  2. Classroom management that is constructed with a foundation of trust between teacher and students

Okay, so I didn’t get to my second point (epic fail on the instructional planning of my own lesson) but I intend to!  I am excited and thankful to be preparing, reflecting and refining my future lessons for PSU and other colleges/universities around New Hampshire.

Click HERE for the instructional planning method I have created to support both new and seasoned educators

Click HERE for the classroom management fundamentals I have created to support both new and seasoned educators

Sabbatical, Serving the Community

The MainStreet Marketplace and Gallery: The Place to Be


Have you ever discovered an amazing place and you have torn emotions of selfishly wanting to keep it to yourself, yet unselfishly wanting to shout your discovery from the rooftops?  I recently made this type of discovery while searching for a place to work on my sabbatical project.  Despite selfishly desiring to wait until my sabbatical year was over to exclaim my find, I could not in good conscience keep my discovery a secret.


So far I have managed to work in a hodgepodge of settings, yet one stands out as the premier place to be productive.  The MainStreet Bookends of Warner is a great bookstore…no, a FANTASTIC bookstore.  Katharine Nevins and her family have created an incredible business that has wonderful products, delightful ambience, and without a doubt the friendliest service around.  But there is an out-in-the-open secret that is rarely tapped of its sweet goodness cozied up to the back of this bookstore: The MainStreet Marketplace and Gallery.

The Marketplace and Gallery is an ideal location if you are seeking out a quiet and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.  Here is a list of the many attributes this bookstore hideaway has to offer:

  1. Seating – several beautiful tables and chairs to choose from
  2. Artwork – several local artists’ illustrations and handcrafted items line the walls
  3. Coffee – delicious coffee from the Woodshed Roasting Company along with fresh half & half from the Contoocook Creamery is available with a $2 donation
  4. Quiet – away from noisy traffic and the hustle and bustle of in-and-out customers you will find rare and invaluable tranquility
  5. Wi-Fi – a strong internet connection awaits to provide your connectivity needs
  6. Setting – the lighting and artistic surroundings provide a cozy and peaceful locale
  7. Events – amazing authors and talented musicians visit here often

So…as much as I’d like to keep this place to myself and its loyal guests, you REALLY should visit the MainStreet Marketplace and Gallery if you are seeking a beautiful and serene place to work, read, and write, or a place to relax with a friend.

You will be thrilled if you do!


Collaboration, Curriculum, Rocky Shore Curriculum

The Beginning Has Arrived: Lesson One


It can be difficult to work hard on anything when you can’t visually see the results of your labor.  As much joy as I have had in the pursuit of creating a curriculum for New Hampshire educators and their students, it has been no easy task to work for hours and hours and see little development.  However, the anticipation of the outcome makes tasks worthwhile, no matter how arduous or tedious they can be.

And the first outcome of many was emailed to me this afternoon by Kirsty Walker of Hobblebush Design – the first draft of the first lesson of the curriculum…woo hoo!  Although it is only a draft, and will receive some illustrative upgrades and perhaps more tweaking, it was a beautiful sight.

I am thrilled that the creation of this curriculum is underway, and I am extremely thankful for the time and effort Mark Wiley of UNH, Kate Leavitt of the Seacoast Science Center, and Kirsty Walker of Hobblebush have put into this project.

I am currently working on lesson four of this rocky shore curriculum, and have many more to go, but couldn’t wait to share a sample of what has been made and what is to come with all of you.

Thank YOU for taking the time to read this, and for your support and encouragement.

Enjoy the “sneak peek”: